Sewer backups are nasty. They can cause extensive, costly damage and create health hazards you must rectify immediately.
Regrettably, many homeowners presume their homeowners insurance policy protects them from a sewer backup. This usually isn’t the case. Policies usually limit coverage to sudden, unexpected plumbing incidents that occur inside your home’s structure, such as a burst pipe or a toilet or faucet that breaks and leaks water.
However, sewer backup is wastewater that flows back into your house from the municipal main. You are responsible for the maintenance and repair of the sewer lateral line that runs between the city sanitary sewer main and your home. Insurance coverage doesn’t normally extend to this area.
If your policy does offer coverage, it will be very limited and probably won’t cover you for a major loss. A common limit is $10,000, but major remediation could cost you three times that amount.
Common Causes of a Sewer Backup
No one can predict when a sewer backup can occur. However, we do know some of the common causes. These include:
- Extreme weather events that lead to excess water overflowing municipal mains
- Collapsed or broken sewer lines caused by old infrastructure such as clay pipes or tree root penetrations
- Blocked lines or plumbing caused by improper disposal of grease, coffee grinds, or paper products
- Improper garbage disposal use
- Illegal plumbing connections
- Sump pump failure due to power outage or age
- Lack of backwater valve
Can I Add Sewer Backup Coverage to My Existing Policy?
You may be able to add an endorsement or rider to your policy, but it may not offer sufficient protection if you experience a major loss. Plus, an endorsement or rider may only cover sewer lines, not damage to your home.
What Does Sewer Backup Cover?
Sewer backup insurance, or water backup insurance, typically covers damage to your section of the sewer line that runs from your house to the municipal line. If a backup causes property damage or you have standing sewage in your home, it will pay to have these issues corrected, up to your policy limit.
Sewer backup insurance does not cover faulty or damaged plumbing within your home. This may be included in your dwelling coverage, but check with your agent to be sure.
Some, but not all, policies cover standing sewage caused by the municipality. However, policies normally exclude coverage for damages caused by a lack of maintenance on your portion of the sewer line.
If you notice signs of a sewer backup such as a foul smell, toilets that won’t flush after a rain, or unusual gurgling noises in the pipes, call a plumber. They can snake the line for obstructions. If that doesn’t rectify the problem, you may need to hire a sewer line inspection company.
Sewer backup coverage is not the same as flood insurance. Each offers specific protections for distinct events. Flood damage is available through the National Flood Insurance Program and some private insurers.
If you have a finished basement, a furnace in the lower level, or live in a flood-prone zone, you should definitely consider sewer backup coverage. The cost is typically very reasonable, and depends on where you live, the size of your home, and coverage options. Call us today for a free quote.